Ruth Margarete Christine Fuerst – 21 August 1943

On or about this day in 1943, Ruth Fuerst, Christie’s first known victim was murdered at 10 Rillington Place. Born on 2 August 1922 in Bad Vöslau in Lower Austria, she was half-Jewish and, having moved to Vienna in October 1938 following the German annexation of Austria in March, Ruth lost contact with her parents for a time and arrived as a refugee in Britain in June 1939.

Initially, she worked in various casual employments but was later interned as an alien on the Isle of Wight until December 1940. Once released, she moved towards London and found work as a waitress in the Mayfair Hotel; she met a Cypriot man by whom she had a daughter, born in October 1942, who was later given up for adoption.

By 1943, Ruth was in London and again working as a waitress. Previously at an address in Elgin Crescent, she moved to 41 Oxford Gardens in Notting Hill which was close by to Rillington Place and, thus, within Christie’s sphere of activity, both as a local resident himself and as a War Reserve Constable. By this time she was working in a munitions factory at the Grosvenor Works of John Bolding and Sons in Davies Street WC1. Having left that job, Ruth may have resorted to casual prostitution to provide income although this is not known for certain. In any event, she had by now become acquainted with Christie and had, according to him, already visited the house at No. 10 twice; on this occasion, Christie’s wife Ethel was away in Sheffield visiting her family and Christie later recounted how, during intercourse with Ruth, he had strangled her with a rope. With his wife’s return home imminent, Christie described how he had bundled up Ruth’s body and moved it temporarily to beneath the front room floorboards before subsequently moving her to the outside wash house and finally burying her in a shallow grave in the back garden – where she was to remain until discovered by police ten years later in 1953.

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